Mesa man played a role in incredible dinosaur find when he was a teenager

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- A Mesa man played an instrumental part in finding an incredible prehistoric discovery when he was just a teenager.

"It did take us 20 years to get a name on this baby, and part of that is because we, truly at the time, were not exactly sure what we're looking at," said an official during a news conference on the find.

The Arizona Museum of Natural History announced the discovery of a mid-Cretaceous period Tyrannosaur. The finding is proving to be important, because there aren't many fossils from this time period.

"Two partial skeletons," said the official. "It's among one of the most complete tyrannosauruses in the world because of that. Granted, they were all little scraps and pieces."

The two skeletons were found sometime between 1996 and 1998, just 50 meters (about 164.04 feet) apart. One of the people who discovered it is Mesa native Sterling Nesbitt. At the time, Nesbitt was a teen volunteer at the museum.

Nesbitt named one of the bones Tyrannus Hazelae, after his wife, Hazel Wolfe. The name translates to "Hazel's Coyote Tyrant", which proved to be a fitting name.

"Coyote is known as the trickster in Pueblo tribes, and that fits this guy," said the official. "He tricked us several times on the way to coming up with a name."

Coming up with a name wasn't the only difficulties they had. It was a long drawn out process to figure out what they had.

"Getting them separated, putting them together later was a long and fairly tedious process," said the official. "The epiphany of what we had was slow to come as well."

The discovery was announced on Monday in the journal "Nature Ecology and Evolution". As for Nesbitt, he is now a professor at Virginia Tech, in their Department of Geosciences.